Turning Wine into Water is Easy on Sonoma County’s New Tasting Route
There’s a new way to turn wine into water in Sonoma County. I did say “wine into water,” which may not, on the face of it, sound quite as appealing as that neat trick of turning water into wine.*
Fortunately, when you visit a wine tasting room that participates in Vineyards to Villages, a new partnership between Sonoma County wineries and a nonprofit organization, you get to drink the wine, while villagers in East Africa get much-needed access to fresh, clean water. It’s a wine-win situation, if you will.
The motto of the program is “Turning Sonoma County Wine into African Water,” and it was created by Global Partners for Development, a small, Rohnert Park-based nonprofit organization with a worldwide mission.
Currently, they operate in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, providing grants and helping to set up programs for water access and education. Communities take the lead and apply for their grants, said Amy Holter, associate director at Global Partners for Development.
Vineyard to Villages was inspired in 2013 by David Stare, founder of Dry Creek Vineyards and president of the board for Global Partners. “He had the idea to connect the wine industry with water programs we’re doing in Africa,” said Holter. Stare is also involved in water and fish habitat issues in Dry Creek Valley.
After reaching out to some of the bigger wineries, the organization created this wine route as a way for smaller, boutique wineries to help out, too. Each participating winery has a Vineyards to Villages poster, brochure, and map of the route, and 50 percent of proceeds from a bottle-necker designated wine will go directly to water programs in the Kabando Constituency of Kenya.
Small, remote communities that are sometimes underserved by governments and major relief organizations are a good match for Global Partners, according to Holter. “We might not be making the biggest changes, but it’s a big change for the people that are affected.”
*In Wine Country, turning “water into wine” is sometimes not quite so divine as when practiced by one of the world’s most popular religious figures to keep a wedding party hopping into the night. Ask a winemaker about the sort-of respectfully, if somewhat cheekily named “Jesus addition,” the practice of adding water to dilute the sugar content — thus, moderating a potentially high alcohol level — of crushed grapes before they’re fermented into wine, and they will readily admit … to having heard that some other winemakers engage in that practice.
Dom Whitney Wines
Sarzotti Red Blend, a Cabernet-Merlot blend from Dominic Foppoli and Whitney Opperman.
9000 Windsor Road, Windsor. 707-657-7804.
Deux Amis Winery
2009 Single Vineyard Zinfandel, from this winery named after two friends, acclaimed winemaker Phyllis Zouzounis and Jim Penpraze (now retired).
9050 Windsor Road, Windsor. 707-942-6180.
2008 “Miktos” Red Blend: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
11650 Los Amigos Road Healdsburg. 707-433-4032.
Christopher Creek Winery
2009 Reserve Syrah. Now owned by the Foppoli family, Christopher Creek has been specializing in Syrah for many years.
641 Limerick Lane, Healdsburg. 707-433-2001.
Taste 2008 Five Vines Blend in a small, intimate space with beautiful views just south of Healdsburg. Viszlay put a lot into the first school that Global Partners funded.
851 Limerick Lane, Healdsburg. 707-481-1514
De La Montanya Winery
2012 Pink Riesling: Something exotic from a winery with a sassy side. Check out the “Pinup” collector’s edition wines — you can pose, too.
999 Foreman Lane, Healdsburg. 707-433-3711.
2010 Grenache: The Williamsons hail from Australia, where old “bush vine” Grenache is something of a celebrity, so you know this has got to be good. And the charcuterie, cheese and small bites pairings are presented with such mesmerizing art, you’ll thank them for selling you on the bottle.
134 Matheson Street, Healdsburg. 707-433-1500.
2009 Merlot: While visiting the Hawley family’s downtown tasting room, ask about winemaker John Hawley’s falconry project.
36 North Street, Healdsburg. 707-473-9500.
2011 Dry Creek Reserve Zinfandel: A Dry Creek Valley favorite.
1960 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg. 707-433-4355.
Fritz Underground Winery
2009 Reserve Chardonnay: Served cool, in a winery dug into the hillside at the top of Dry Creek Valley.
24691 Dutcher Creek Road, Cloverdale. 707-894-3389.